People, Environment

Crackdown on Water Hyacinth Vendors

Water hyacinth has besieged the southernmost part of Anzali Wetland.Water hyacinth has besieged the southernmost part of Anzali Wetland.

Local law enforcement official have arrested a number of water hyacinth vendors in Gilan Province to stop the growth of the invasive plant species, the head of the provincial Department of Environment said.

“Our efforts to stop the sale of water hyacinth are progressing well,” Qorbanali Mohammadpour was also quoted as saying by ISNA.

The aquatic plant has already besieged the southernmost part of Anzali Wetland, raising concerns that the plant’s popularity among the locals could ease its way into other parts of the country.

To prevent it from spreading to neighboring provinces, a provincial court issued an order banning its trade.

Native to the Amazon basin, water hyacinth can swiftly and aggressively cover an entire wetland, which will dramatically affect water flow, block sunlight from reaching the submerged plants and starve the wetland of oxygen, killing whatever marine life it hosts.

It clogs waterways, making boating, fishing and all other water activities almost impossible. Water flow through water hyacinth mats is greatly diminished, an acre of water hyacinth can weigh more than 200 tons; infestations can be many acres in size.

“During the last 15 months, some 320 hectares of Anzali Wetland, 13 hectares of Eynak Wetland, seven hectares of Shaft Wetland and 13 hectares of Fouman Wetland have been cleared of the plant, thanks to a public initiative,” Mohammadpour said.

The invasive plants are in high demand as household plants due to their very showy lavender flowers. Officials believe water hyacinth trade hurts local economy, tourism, biodiversity, farmlands and water sources, which is why they should be eliminated as soon as possible.

Water hyacinth had become a major invasive plant species in Lake Victoria surrounded by Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania between 1992 and 1998. It affected the local population in many negative ways. There were economic impacts when the weed blocked boat access. The effects on transportation and fishing were also immediately felt.

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